A clothes theme is a great topic to do with your kids at any time of the year.
It offers a versatile range of learning skills covering all areas of the curriculum from literacy right through to RE. And of course you always have a readily available pool of resources! [The kids and what they are wearing!]
So scroll down the page and pick the clothes theme activities that are relevant for your particular age range and start planning!
Collect as many different kinds of clothes, shoes and hats as you can find and put them on a clothes rack or in a big dressing up box.
Allow the kids to try different outfits on and at the end of the day have a fashion show. The rest of the class can be the audience. Don't forget to include some stuff for the boys to dress up in as well though!
Laundry Role Play
This could be your role play area, a laundry!
Discuss with your class, perhaps in circle time, what they think would be needed in a laundry and how they could make these things. Perhaps they don't even know what goes on in a laundry so talk about this first!
Perhaps the children could make a washing machine and a tumble drier out of some big supermarket boxes with a door that opens and some buttons with instructions on.
Then they might decide they need an ironing board and iron so the clothes are pressed before giving them back to the clients!
And lastly they will need lots of different kinds of clothes to launder.A visit to a charity shop might be a good idea or perhaps the kids could bring in some of their unwanted clothes from home.
Lets get washing!
Provide a water tray full of soapy water and let the kids loose with some dolls clothes! When they have washed them get them to squeeze all the water out [good for their motor control!] and hang them out on a line to dry!
[ It may be advisable to make sure there is a plastic sheet or some trays to catch the excess water under the line or drier!!]
I pack my bag!
Provide a small suitcase or perhaps a lunch box and some holiday clothes. See how many clothes they can fit inside. Does it make it easier if they fold them first?
What creases easily and what doesn't?
What materials fold and pack easily?
Then they could make a list of the things they would need to take with them if they were going away for a few days.Think about clothes and footwear, wash bag stuff, books and games and anything else they might think of.
What would they need to pack for a dog or a cat or even a hamster!
What shall I wear? [sorting]
This is an activity for a group of kids to work together on. It's essentially a sorting task but will inevitably involve lots of discussion and of course working together as a team so that each child gets to participate!
They will need a large piece of blank paper and down the middle they make a list of all the clothes they can think of. They can allot one person to do the writing or they can all lend a hand. That's for the group to decide.They might need some catalogues and magazines to help them with this.
Younger children could cut out pictures and stick them on in the place of writing.
List finished, now it's time to draw a summer picture on one side of the paper and a winter picture on the other side. Perhaps they might need the words summer and winter to help make it clear!
Then they must decide which side of the paper is most appropriate for all the clothes listed down the middle and draw a line from the article to the summer side or the winter side
Are there any clothes that can be joined to both pictures and therefore can join both sides?
Shoes and Socks Maths [measuring]
Who needs a rule when you can use your shoe to measure with?
And its much more fun!
Before you begin this clothes theme activity get the kids together in a circle and ask them to look at their feet and those of their friends. Are they all the same size and shape? Do the tall children have larger feet than those of smaller kids? And dare I be sexist? Do boys have bigger feet than girls?
How can we find out? Hopefully they will suggest they draw round their own shoes [or feet, not so easy but possible!] and cut them out.
Can they suggest ways of answering the questions above?
Perhaps they could put all the boys shoes in one hoop and the girls in another. What did this tell them?
What about tall children and short children? Is there any correlation between the two, regarding the shoe sizes?
Now its time to use their shoe shape as a rule. Ask them to measure as many things around the classroom as they can and record their answers on a sheet of paper or in their maths book. For example: My chair is 4 shoes wide.
Why do the measurements differ so much? Do they think that using shoes or hands is an accurate way to measure things?
If not why not?
They could finish the activity by sticking all their shoe shapes on a long piece of paper in order of size. Names underneath of course!
Activity 2 [counting and estimating]
Time for sock maths now!
Allow the kids to explore a collection of socks. Are they all the same size? Make a line of socks ordered from big to little.
Let them choose one of the socks and estimate how many sheets of newspaper it would take to fill their sock. Allow them to try it. Were they right? Try the same activity with other socks. They could make a chart to show how many sheets each sock held.
Try the same thing with shoes and boots. Record their results. Did the shoe hold more or less newspaper than the sock? What about the boot?
Can the kids think of any other activity they could do with their shoes for their clothes theme? A shoe or sock matching game for example?
Stretchy Material Maths [measuring]
First discuss with the kids what happens to their clothes as they get bigger? Do they grow with them?
What clothes do they grow out of most quickly?
Which clothes are made of stretchy material?
Make a list with the children of the clothes that they think are 'stretchy clothes'.They could cut out some pictures from magazines of stretchy and non stretchy clothes and stick them on a chart.
How far can materials stretch? [fair testing ]
For this activity you will need to provide small samples of different types of materials both stretchy and non stretchy for the kids to experiment with. Making them all the same size for younger children ensures it is a 'fair test' But you might want them to think of this for themselves if they are older kids. If so give them random sizes of cloth!
Then in groups, ask them to find out which piece of cloth will stretch the furthest. It must be a 'fair test' so how will they ensure that it is?
Ask them to record their results. How can they do this?
Afterwards perhaps you could discuss the results.
Why do they think that some materials need to be stretchy?
Weaving ideas for your Clothes Theme.
I try and 'weave' weaving into as many themes as I possibly can because of its versatility and for the variety of different skills and opportunities it offers.
I have used it in a maths lesson to further the teaching of pattern. I have used weaving in a science lesson when we have been looking at materials and textures and also in an arty lesson when we've been discussing the colour wheel. You can bring all 3 of the above into a clothes theme by looking at pattern, texture and colour in the things that the children are wearing!
By offering them a variety of different kinds of material you could get them to make a weaving with a theme such as a 'waterproof weaving' or a 'warm weaving'!
What sort of material would they choose and what sort of colours do they think of when we say 'wet' or 'warm'?
Then once again there is a variety of different things you can weave into. In the picture above I used some netting which I used in my summer theme to display butterflies. But I have also used the outside fence as a weaving wall and just left a bucket of cloth strips for the kids to weave when and if they felt like it!
Then there are more individual ways such as a plastic margarine lid with v slits cut all round the edge then winding wool or string across from one notch to another. Then weaving strips of cloth in and out of the strings
Polystyrene trays work well too and you can also use an A4 bit of paper, Fold it in half and cut up from the fold to about 2 inches from the top. Repeat until you have strips all the way across. Then weave away!
Remind your class they can include a pattern in their weaving and as many different textures as they like. They might like to talk about their design when they have all finished
Design your own T Shirt [A 'must have' activity for your clothes theme!]
I have done this activity with my class in 2 ways. For the younger kids I cut out lots of t shirt shapes from an old bed sheet and using fabric pens I let them loose to design their very own t shirt. We them hung them on a washing line to display them.
With older kids I asked them to bring in an old plain white or light coloured t shirt from home. I hunted round the charity shops for those that didn't have one!
Then we had a brainstorming session when we thought of logos or fun designs we could put on our t shirts to make them personal. They then had a doodle session using paper and crayons until they were sure of the design they wanted! Then out with the fabric pens and bingo, their very own designer 't shirt!'
NB Just be aware, that you have to 'set' the colours so as they don't wash out. Usually this involves ironing them but have a look at the instructions on the packet of your particular pens to make sure.
Dying to Dye!!
Create your own dyes and make your own material!
Making your own dyes is an easy activity to do with your kids for your clothes theme. All you need is a collection of 'past their best' fruits and veggies such as wilted spinach or ends of lemons or soft carrots. These can be boiled up to make cheap and eco friendly dyes to colour your cloth.
What you need:
What you do.
Gather together all your fruits and vegetables that you have collected for your dyes.You will need at least a cupful of each item, chopped into smallish bits, to make a strong enough colour.
Put each cupful of chopped fruit or veg into a small saucepan and cover with about twice as much water. Leave to simmer for at least an hour.
Allow to cool to room temperature and then strain and pour into glass jars. You can use plastic ones but the dye will stain them.
Now you are ready to dye your cloth!
Fixing the dye. [you don't have to do this]
To make a lasting job you will need to 'fix 'the colour. For fruit dyes, you put the fabric in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of salt and simmer for one hour
For vegetable dyes put the cloth in a saucepan with a cup of vinegar and 4 cups of water and as with the fruit dyes, boil for an hour.
Rinse the cloth well in cold water then immerse it in the dye until it reaches the right colour
Of course you don't have to do this unless the cloth you intend to dye is going to be kept or worn. For displaying in the classroom, as I did, I don't think you need to go to all that trouble. Boiling for one hour is bad enough!!
If you don't want to bother with the fixing process just soak your cloth in the dyes until you have the desired colour.
The kids will think its a little bit of magic.
Ask the children why we wear clothes?
Look at the type of clothes that were worn at different times throughout history and why do they think they changed so much over time? Clothes [through the ages] by Hachette Children's Books. It's available on Amazon. This could be a good starting point.
What about the cavemen? What did they wear and how did they keep themselves warm?
What was it like to live in the medieval times?
What were their houses like? How did they keep warm?
Did they used to wear clothes to go to bed in?
Why did knights wear clothes made if metal? Who made them do they think? What must it have been like to wear such heavy clothes?
Look at the picture of Victorian women. Why did they wear dresses that covered them up from top to toe?
Let the kids loose in the school library and give them a list of questions to find answers to.
You might also like to take a look at the Anglo Saxon Theme page for more ideas about clothes and life in bygone times.
This is a fab way of linking the arty clothes theme activities to an RE themed task.Also lends itself to a discussion about feelings and empathy.
Read the story of Joseph and his Multicoloured Coat.
Brainstorm with the kids, a time when they have felt jealous of something that their brother or sister had.
How did they deal with it?
How did it make them feel?
Did they own up to how they felt or were they too ashamed?
Do they think that Joseph could have acted differently so as not to anger his brothers?
What would they have done in Joseph's place?
Now for the link!
Get the kids to draw a large outline of Joseph on a piece of strong paper or card.
Using the dyed cloth made in the arty section cut out lots of squares, or any other shape they fancy, and stick them on the drawing to make Joseph's multicoloured dream coat. Then display it with some of their explanations of how they made the dyes. I did this and it makes quite an impressive pin board!
For more PHSE themed ideas see 'The Rainbow Fish' on Rainbow Activities
I hope you've found something fun to do with your kids from my Clothes Theme page. For more theme ideas go to my home page and scroll down the list.